Museums are all about learning, and how appropriate it is when restaurants within museums focus on education, on discovering something new, on continuing the cultural experience of visiting the museum.
Bogota has recently seen two new restaurant openings in important museums, and these restaurants focus on enlightening visitors on food, health and Colombian cuisine.
Enter the Museo de Arte Moderno, or MamBO, walk up the stairs to the left and step into a learning experience. Suburbio – El Bodegón del Museo, the second Suburbio restaurant in Bogota, opened recently and continues the philosophy of ‘biogastronomy’, which could be defined as the art of healthy eating. Organic. Natural. Local. Healthy.
At Suburbio they emphasize light meals that teach people proper proportions. For instance, only 100 grams of protein are served at each meal, which can be downright shocking to many Colombians. The style could be considered international techniques interwoven with Colombian ingredients.
A typical soup served could be a healthy Chontadura with honey and cilantro, or pea soup with mint and green pepper. Salads feature puréed cubio, or haba beans prepared with mint, Colombian potatoes and local farmer’s cheese. Here chicken gets a Colombian touch, cooked in Bogota Beer Company’s Candelaria beer.
And since the focus is on healthy and local, there isn’t any Coke or Sprite, but a variety of fruit juices and local beers from Bogota Beer Company. Since we’re in Colombia they serve, of course, good coffee, which is also a learning experience. Organic Azahar specialty coffee has coffee appellation, which means the coffee is grown in specific geographic microclimates which produce distinct aromas and tastes.
Even if you’re not planning on visiting the museum, the restaurant is easy to access. The decoration is a bit bare, but the overall environment is pleasant and, next to the bookstore and photo gallery, feels scholarly and could even inspire artistic inclinations.
Calle 24 #6-00
From the creators of Mini-mal we have a new addition to the Museo Nacional. In September of 2013 El Panóptico was born, a restaurant designed to give us a look inside Colombian culinary traditions.
Placed under the arches of the National Museum in an open space shared with the museum gift store, El Panóptico is casual, with sparse decoration. The stone and brick of the original jail walls are visible, and outside a fountain surrounded by the old brick walls and small, heavily barred windows are a reminder of the past of this jail-turned-museum.
The name of the restaurant, El Panóptico, refers to a type of architecture used for prisons, a circular building where the occupants of each cell are clearly visible to officials; another appropriate reminder that this museum was once a jail.
The mission of this restaurant is to keep typical Colombian ingredients and culinary techniques in the public eye. A few dishes were borrowed from the menu at Mini-mal but mostly it’s a new menu with an inclination towards Pacific-coast cooking, with some ingredients from the Amazon.
Here you’ll get dishes you won’t find in just any restaurant.
Proof of that is the carpaccio de guatila, made from thin slices of pickled papa de pobre, cubio, hibia and chugua. Before you reach for your dictionary, a word of warning; these words probably won’t be there. These are Colombian terms for root vegetables. If you’ve taken a tour of the Palo Quemado market, you’ve no doubt seen them – and wondered what in the world they are. Here’s a chance to try them.
The menu in general is a lesson in vocabulary and customs of Colombia. Pusandao is a meat and cassava dish served with delicious coconut rice from the Pacific region. Curulado is a rice and shrimp dish. There are also tropical juices like lulada, which is lulo juice with bits of fruit in it. One of the few decorations in the restaurant is a platter with tropical fruits and vegetables that gives you an idea of what you’re eating; achiote, guatila, cubio, papa nativa.
To fully understand the cultural focus of the restaurant, you just have to go and visit this unique opportunity to get a taste of Colombia.
Carrera 7 #28-66